I love how one thing leads to another.....
SHE lifted off and laid an egg or two on the Corky-Stemmed Passionvine (Passiflora suberosa) nearby. It amazes me that this ragged female could still fly - and that she still had the energy to locate passionvine and lay eggs! It makes me think that, perhaps, occasionally handling butterflies won't overly handicap their success after all.
BugGuide has helped me determine that this is a female syrphid fly in the genus Xylota. These syrphid flies eat pollen from the surface of leaves as adults, which I think you can actually see her doing in the above photo! The larvae feed on sap runs. So, my bare eyes said a small wasp, hunting, but increased magnification and more research revealed a fly, eating pollen!
A fun few minutes. Fifteen minutes, to be exact. And all from the relative privacy of my back patio, while in bare feet and still in pajamas!
As I wrote the original post when I got back inside, I looked out back onto the patio again and saw a male towhee perched proudly on the top of the statue there! Sadly, I wasn't able to get a picture of him, but I did get to enjoy watching him from my spot in the recliner!
Gardening for wildlife is like having a nature preserve right outside my back door!